One of the simple reasons that the Rangers have been able to post a 12-8 record to this point, and the 2nd-best mark in the American League, is that the club has managed to win more series (4, against the Phillies, Astros, Mariners, and White Sox) than it has lost (2, against the Rays and Red Sox).
In winning the opener of a road series in Oakland last night, the Rangers came one step closer to winning a 5th series on the season, which figures to be an important trait for a club hoping to reclaim AL West glory. It's easy to get wrapped up in the emotion of individual games at times, which ends up leaving us wishing for sweeps instead of just wins, but after all 162 games are played, it doesn't matter how long your winning streaks are just that you win often enough, and more than your opponents.
I realize that seems to be a very unrevealing and boring statement, but it's true: If you win every series of the season, chances are, you'll be approaching the record of the 2001 Mariners, who finished at 116-46. Perhaps more importantly than just winning series, the Rangers have managed to avoid being swept as well. That, I think is where this 2014 club has a chance to make its mark.
It very well may be that the days of the Rangers simply outslugging opponents are gone, but that doesn't mean that, at least from a results standpoint, this year's club can't approach that same success.
The way I've often thought about the success or failure of a baseball team is simple: You're going to win a third of your games, and you're going to lose a third of your games. It's what you do with the remaining third that determines your success.
That may be over-simplistic, but the underlying thought process is fairly sound. Winning two-thirds of 162 games puts a team at 108 wins, which is normally going to be out of reach. However, winning a sound majority of that extra third will almost always put a team into playoff contention.
That's why, after last night's win in a game in which Yu Darvish struggled to get through 6 innings, the Rangers now find themselves in the enviable position of needing one win in two chances to secure another series victory. Perhaps the rookie Nick Martinez can go out and steal one tonight, but if not, I feel comfortable knowing that Martin Perez will take the mound tomorrow with another chance to get it done.
No, it's not flashy, and knowing all of that probably won't prevent me from yelling at my TV when things go wrong in individual games, but if we all take a step back, it's a lot easier to appreciate what this ball club is doing with a pool of supposed replacement-level players taking on key roles at this early point of the season.
So while it's all fun and games to obliterate opponents and go on 5-game, 7-game, and 10-game winning streaks, it's just as pleasing to look back and see that the Rangers are managing to win series. Beat opponents more often than they beat you, and give yourself a chance after 162 games.
But even still, I want the Rangers and Nick Martinez to beat the A's.